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Early motorcycle dealer predicts rosy future

Motorcycle history begins in the 1880s in Germany and the United States.

Daimler and Maybach invented the first petroleum-powered machine, while Sylvester Roper of Massachusetts built a charcoal-fired, two-cylinder engine in 1867. The English Triumph bike added a Belgian-built engine, and by 1903, had sold 500 motorcycles before Harley-Davidson had even begun producing bikes. By 1911 the police in Berkeley, California, had organized a police patrol, the first in the United States.

Looking toward the future, R.A. Flynn of the Pacific Motor Supply in Medford stated in the Mail-Tribune in 1912: “I predict that with(in) three years the motorcycle will be seen as frequently on the streets of our cities and on the country roads as was the bicycle back in 1895 and 1896, before the development of the gasoline engine made it possible to obtain quick and easy locomotion without any exertion. The motorcycle is so much superior to the bicycle that there is no comparison between the two machines.”

Flynn said thousands of city people would want the new healthful and economical transportation. His stated optimism was influenced by the fact he was the Harley-Davidson dealer.

Source: “Great Future For The Motor Cycle,” Medford Mail Tribune Medford, Ore., June 15, 1912.

As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.

Southern Oregon Historical Society PhotoHarley Davidson motorcycle in 1921.